Den (dewhitton) wrote,

Day 20 - Glastonbury, Wookey Hole, Bath, and the Rollright Stones

Today's travels on page 3

Tintagel, which we visited yesterday, is tied in with the King Arthur story and is, therefore, full of Arthur and Merlin stores. Glastonbury is very much tied to the New Age Enlightenment/Magick/Stones/Mystic/Avalon/Hippy... thingy. Every second store sold something myffic, including a full range of Native American dream catchers. I suppose there is something for everyone coming to Glastonbury to find Arthur.

We left early and headed into the Mendip Hills, aiming for a tiny village called Wookey Hole. Somewhere in the upper Mendips the River Axe vanishes underground, and emerges again at Wookey after carving out a huge series of caves. We arrived there just before opening time, and caught the first guided tour. There were just the three of us - me, Aaron, and our guide. She asked if we wanted the official tour or just a walk and chat. So we wandered through the caves and chatted about science, caves, bats, the action of the Axe, cave diving, cheese, and how The Witch Of Wookey* has taken over all facets of this system and was the major commercial draw-card for tourists (the way Arthur, Merlin, and hippies have taken over Tintagel and Glastonbury.)

When I was here last (early 90s) they did a demonstration of paper making from cotton scraps, but all that is now dormant and replaced by a display about cave diving. Back then, the Axe flowed from the cave and tumbled down a stoney bed between green banks before diving under the mill. Now it travels a short distance before diving into a culvert under a raised platform containing smilodons, mammoths, fluroescent dinosaurs, and Neandertals. I don't know how the dinosaus fit in, but there is evidence of the mammals being cooked by early hunters in a hyena's den, which is in the side of the river valley just down from the cave.

After the cave we wandered through the Penny Arcade full of vintage arcade machines, and a mirror maze. Aaron had never seen one before.

From Wookey Hole we travelled through the Mendip Hills to Bath, and did a tour of the Roman Baths excavated under the old Georgian town. Hot water still bubbles up from the ancient springs and fills the Roman baths before flowing through the old drain into the Avon. An excellent 3 hours was had wandering the Roman Ruins, followed by a not so excellent half hour while we tried to find the car park where we left the car. I did get to eat a proper sausage-inna-bun.

And so we turned for Offord Darcy. It was after 5pm when we reached The Cotswolds, and it was raining heavily (again) so we missed all the famous villages in that area - Burton On The Water, and The Slaughters. I navigated us to Rollright so I could show Aaron the Rollright Stones, a proper stone circle. There were once 105 stones in this circle, so close they touched and made a solid wall, apart from an opening. Many stones are missing but the ring is still substantial. Someone left a bunch of flowers of the largest stone.

I would have stayed longer to explore the other stones in the area but the rain became heavy and cold, so we headed for Offord Darcy. The trip was uneventful and not terribly interesting, except for all the swollen rivers and streams. And we were held up at the Buckden rail crossing by a pair of high-speed train.

*The human bones discovered in the cave and said to belong to the Witch, came from a male. You're not supposed to know that.
Tags: travel, trip, uk

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